The Age Of The Gross; Response
I got a response that helps me understand the speech, and it's so good it deserves a page of its own:
Thanks for posting the speech, I had encountered a chopped version
in the Sydney Blu song "senses and the mind".
I have to disagree with some of the postings. Actually Spiro Agnew
is reiterating a very old argument. He, I would be dollars to donuts,
was or is a philosophical positivist. Positivism, and the Positivist
like Rudolph Carnap and the Vienna school, were analytical philosophers
who believed that logic and reasoning were the only valid means of
deriving "truth" because logic grantees the validity of an argument
through systematic analysis of syntax and structure. They also believed
strongly in a refined version of empiricism where they claimed that only
through positive (actual and real and occurring through one or more of
the five senses) experience can we truly obtain knowledge. We can not
sit in a chair and reason our way to nuclear physics, we have to use the
scientific method, mathematics and controlled /experimentation/. They
believe in rigid educational systems of the traditional model known as
classical method where students come to learn about the great thinkers
and learn how to think before they contribute. Students learn the
scientific method along with math, the "Hard Sciences," and classical
philosophies. Students wouldn't arrive to class to speak on what they
thought, or how they felt, but to learn how to think. Logically,
structurally, and logically. Insight had a place, but only insofar as it
could be experimented on and tested through the senses.
This school of thought is anti-metaphysical and anti-demagoguery.
Their idea of positive experience through the senses was the source of
their main objections of two ideas of their time; religion, and
The first , religion is self evident. After all how can you speak
logically about a God or the Existence of God? There is no physical
manifest of God. People claim to be touched by him but can't really say
how with any clear distinction that can be replicated logically. Hence
any debate concerning God is empty because it had no grounds in positive
The same held for metaphysics, as it is beyond physics. And what
qualified as metaphysics; the soft sciences because of their less than
rigorous method. (Which is partially true and is a current objection,
think Freud and the Oedipus complex and how no matter what you said he
could always bring it back to killing your dad and sex with your mom.)
Agnew's third and fourth paragraph are heavily positivist as is his
accusations against Social Sciences. His denouncement of intellectuals
of the '70 to a point is correct because in a way they can suit anyone's
need (as those sciences were in the '70 might not be as true now).
He points out a problem with many "demonstrations and protest" that
still exist today. That is creating arguments which appeal to emotions
rather than logical structure. This is why he claims life is visceral.
Visceral means "intuitive not from intellect" by which he argues that
those individuals who claim to be intellectual create their thesis from
"the gut" and not from any logically structured form.
Hi concern about education being created for the uneducated by the
uneducated follows the same positivist arguments.
The question, "is he a mad-man?"
I would argue no...
Why? Because on the surface he seems to be having a spiritual
crisis, but in actuality he is re hatching an age old argument that is
at the very core of Western Civilization; from where do we acquire
He believes it is acquired through positivism and proper education.
Steven Colbert has also presented with his redefining terms on Wikipedia.
So is the debate about Creationism being shown in public science
Should anyone be able to contribute what ever they want without
logical scrutiny? Or should we subject them to analysis and careful
deliberation before we add them to our collective body of knowledge.
Agnew is obviously a well educated individual who has studied and
has a major grasp on the positivist. He's not nuts, and to dismiss him
as a man in the middle of a spiritual crisis may not be prudent. Agnew
only making an argument against what he saw is the wrong path to follow
based on his view of the world. He makes a good argument, one that is at
And it's not that absurd... After all would you want a doctor to
operate based on "revelation" and on gut feeling without formal training
thats been tested and re-tested?
Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org